Business Q&A with tom nix
Phone apps can ease holiday travel headaches
Q: Thanksgiving can be one of the worst times of the year for traveling. What technology is available as families hit the road?
A: Beat the Traffic is an app that gives real-time traffic updates and traffic alerts due to construction or accidents. On some of the major highways throughout the state, live video cameras allow you to see current road conditions via live stream. This app is even used by media outlets to provide viewers with traffic updates. Your spouse in the passenger seat or tech-savvy kid in the back seat can quickly access this app, available on iOS and Android operating systems. This tool is not only great for busy holiday travel, but also for your daily commute to work or to the highly attended sporting events in Norman, Stillwater and at Chesapeake Arena.
Q: Are there apps to help save money while on the road?
A: Gas prices always seem to spike right around major holiday and traveling seasons. One tool I have relied on is GasBuddy, an app available on iOS and Android that helps you find the best price for gas in your area and locates the nearest gas station while you travel. I use this app when traveling to see family and it has become useful during those long stretches of highways when there is nothing but open plains and areas with limited gas stations. Also, use this app to check for the stations with the lowest prices.
Q: What about keeping restless kids occupied?
A: Yes! Instead of hauling around portable DVD cases or coloring books and crayons, there are endless kid-friendly educational apps available on iTunes and Google Play. With Thanksgiving Coloring Book kids can digitally color and decorate turkeys. And Crayola ColorStudio, available on the iPad, with a custom digital stylus, lets kids color and interact with animated coloring book pages. Another great app is Cookie Doodle, which lets kids create and decorate virtual, and less messy, cookies for the grand Thanksgiving feast.
Q: And weather apps?
A: Winter Survival Kit is the app every family needs on their phone while traveling. This app will detect your exact location if you get trapped in a snowstorm and let you know how long your car can run with the amount of gas in your tank. It also can notify family, friends and emergency responders to let them know you are safe or where you are located. Don't forget to take your phone charger along.
PAULA BURKES, BUSINESS WRITER